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Cambodia, South Korea and Vietnam loosen COVID-19 restrictions as Asia reopens for tourists

March 18, 2022
5 min read
Cambodia, South Korea and Vietnam loosen COVID-19 restrictions as Asia reopens for tourists
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Many countries in Asia are ready to welcome tourists again, even with case numbers related to the omicron variant still showing concerning increases. Several nations have begun to pull back or remove their pandemic restrictions, including testing and quarantine requirements.

On Thursday, Cambodia eliminated its mandate that overseas visitors must take COVID-19 tests before entering the country. It was a move government officials said was designed to help revive the tourism industry, which accounts for 2 million jobs and is responsible for roughly 25% of the country's gross domestic product. "Now it's the stage to open the economy by learning how to live with COVID," Reuters quoted Prime Minister Hun Sen saying during a speech.

The Southeast Asian nation has reached a 92% vaccination rate among its citizens, one of the highest percentages in Asia.

Cambodia's relaxed entry requirements are designed to benefit fully vaccinated tourists. The only way to avoid a two-week quarantine period is to show proof of vaccination upon arrival. Health officials are still encouraging visitors, even if they're fully vaccinated, to take rapid tests on their own to guard against further spread of the virus.

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Morning in Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Vietnam. (Photo by Tai GinDa/Getty Images)

Vietnam has also declared it is reopening for foreign tourists.

Officials have lifted all restrictions, including mandatory quarantine requirements for both foreigners and Vietnamese nationals entering the country. Effective immediately, travelers only have to show a valid negative COVID-19 test upon arrival to be allowed into Vietnam. Visitors must still monitor their own health during the first 10 days of their stay, and notify local health authorities if they come down with symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.

Vietnam's decision to reopen comes at a time when its reported COVID-19 cases are rising. Close to 200,000 cases have been reported in the past two weeks, although officials say most patients have only reported mild symptoms that don't require hospitalization.

South Korea is also pulling back on restrictions despite soaring case numbers. As of April 1, fully vaccinated travelers can register with South Korea's Q-Code website to obtain a QR code that will be used to enter the country and skip the seven-day quarantine.

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Foreign visitors must have received a two-dose vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least two weeks before their trip to be considered fully vaccinated. Proof of a booster shot is required if it has been more than 180 days since vaccination. The Q-Code system will ask for information such as your passport number, departure country, airline, phone number and vaccine records.

Foreign visitors arriving in South Korea by plane will also need to have a negative PCR test taken no more than 48 hours before departure. A record 383,651 cases were reported last week, according to the latest data, with 293 deaths related to COVID-19 in a single day. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified South Korea at Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19, and warned U.S. travelers to avoid the country.

Related: The Philippines reopening its borders to foreign travelers

The entertainment district at the foot of the skyscrapers of the Shinjuku business district in the heart of Tokyo. (Photo by Didier Marti/Getty Images)

The lifting of all these restrictions is a clear sign that the region is ready to get back to some semblance of normalcy after many countries endured harsh restrictions for over two years.

Not all Asian nations are ready to welcome foreign visitors back, however.

Japan has announced plans to remove its coronavirus restrictions entirely as of March 21, a decision influenced by a decreasing number of new COVID-19 infections. Barring any last-minute reversals, Monday will mark the first time Japan has been without virus restrictions since early January. “This will be a transitional period so that we can return to our normal daily lives as much as possible by taking maximum precautions,” Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, according to the Associated Press.

While this is designed to encourage more domestic travel, as well as large gatherings for vaccinated people, Japan is still not opening its borders for tourists yet. The biggest concession the government has made with regard to international visitors came last month, when officials increased the limit on daily new arrivals to 7,000. This decision was designed to allow foreign scholars, students and business travelers to enter Japan.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

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  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023